Business 98 Corridor Study

The Panama City Downtown Improvement Board is a hot topic for debate these days, and this week was no exception.

The DIB held a meeting, requesting public feedback on the future of the Business 98 Corridor.

This isn't the first meeting held to discuss the trouble spots along Highway 98, now refereed to as the "Heritage Corridor."

About 60 people attended a similar meeting back on December 9, prompting the Renaissance Planning Group to request residents' guidance in the renovation process. But that's not as easy as it sounds.

There are several areas that need serious attention. First is St. Andrews. It is currently heavy with truck traffic. Some say rerouting Highway 98 away from St. Andrews is the only plausible option to keep the older streets drivable.

Others on hand for the meeting demanded a change to 6th Street, downtown. Residents there claim the congestion is getting out of hand.

Even worse is the Millville area, where undivided four lane road pose a danger to the people who live there.

Representatives from Renaissance Planning brought along displays and examples of what could be done to the corridor, as well as what other cities have done in similar situations.

But Whit Blanton of Renaissance, insists the models are not recommendations, just options to help spark residents' imagination. "This is a community based study. We need to understand what people value in terms of the character of their community, and how they'd like to see it change. Change could be a good thing because it creates opportunities. But change can be scary if it's the wrong kind of change."

Another workshop will be held next month, tentatively scheduled for February 16.

The DIB board hopes to put together a development plan soon, which could be anywhere from 5, 10 or 20 years. It all depends on the intensity level of the changes they choose.

If you want to find out more about plans for the Business Highway 98 Corridor, you can contact Toni Shamplain with the Downtown Improvement Board at 785-2554.